So guess where I am.
Okay, the title kind of gave it away. Yes, I am in Kenya. To be precise, I’m in Nairobi. I got here three days ago and frankly, I haven’t really processed anything yet. My first impressions are a blur of friendly people, adorable children, mostly cloudy skies but a nice temperate climate, modern high-rise buildings and little, colorful kiosks, a lot of “chai” (tea) and a mixture of very dramatic Mexican soaps and even more dramatic Nigerian movies on TV. Oh, and shopping malls. Big shopping malls. They have huge supermarkets (my favorite so far is Nakumatt, it has a wide range of imported products, I even saw German shampoo and conditioner) and great coffee shops… I like Java Coffee House a lot, which is also where I am right now, typing this blog entry.
My host family is amazing beyond words. I am staying with a friend’s family, which consists of her mother and 14-year-old sister – well, those are the people who live in the house, anyways. But then there aunts and uncles and cousins, whose names I still forget or get mixed up. I remember by now at least the name of the aunt that lives just around the corner, and I have also seen some of the cousins enough to recall their names. I spent an entire afternoon with my teenage host sister and the two youngest cousins, a four-year-old who was fascinated by the “brown spots on my skin” (i.e. birthmarks) and his six-year-old cousin, who lived in the UK for a while and came back quite the lady, and with traces of a British accent, too. If I understood the family relations right, both kids have older siblings and one of them is the kid of the aunt that lives around the block, but I forgot which one…
Everyone is incredibly welcoming and warm. I could really not have found a better place to stay. Without these people, I don’t know if I would feel half as comfortable as I do, because to be honest, Nairobi is a bit scary. I guess it takes some time to adjust to… it’s just that it is much bigger than any city I have ever lived in, the traffic is insane, and there is also always the issue of my very obviously not Kenyan origin… blending in will not exactly be possible. It might be possible to give the impression that I know my way around if I can at least learn to behave like a local, even if I’ll never look like one. That’s what I’ll be working towards. For now I’ll finish my coffee and walk back home… the house I live in does already feel kind of like home. I think I am off to a good start. Stay tuned for updates!